GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Cyprus Open.
Cyprus Open | 29th October – 1st November 2020 | Sky Sports
Golf it's a hard and cruel game. It's perhaps even harder to pick the winner from a field of 100 plus. But alas, we move onto the Cyprus Open on the European Tour.
I won't slam Ross McGowan's long-shot victory, even despite riding the luck throughout the final round, as our pick – 55/1 runner-up Laurie Canter – was just not good enough having practically led the tournament for 71 of the 72 holes throughout the week. If there was any remedy, then Adri Arnaus' place at 33/1 was somewhat an added tonic to what was a gutting week.
We head to a hotter climate for another resort-like test. Already, the likes of Portugal, Oman and Mauritius spring to mind. As does the Trophee Hassan II and three editions of the Volvo Matchplay (2009/11/12) thanks to the course designer.
With a weaker looking field this week, we have a substantial number of names in the same bracket near the front of the market and given this could be another birdie-fest, I'm happy to ignore the short prices of Andy Sullivan, Joost Luiten and Thomas Detry. The latter has let me down far too much, so a win from him would hurt.
Aphrodite Hills Golf Resort in Paphos is the test and here are my pick to probably finish in the place positions once again…
Sami Valimaki (33/1 Coral)
I'm keen to take what juice is left of Oman Open winner Sami Valimaki, who should be ripe for this course having already clinched an ET victory on a coastal venue and arrives here in the finest of form.
His last outing was at Wentworth where he not only finished the week in a tie for 13th but also leading the field for Greens in Regulation. He has missed just one cut from his last six competitions, and that was in the US Open, so he can be forgiven for not performing in a major championship. In fact, the Finnish talent has four T13s from that run, including a runner-up and T6 at Celtic Manor.
Valimaki is a four-time winner on the Pro Golf Tour which regularly sees its players tee it up at venues like this one. Just last year he clinched the Castanea Resort Championship where there were similarly large fairways, though here there is a lack of water which makes it an even better prospect.
Antoine Rozner (35/1 Betfair)
We'll quickly move onto emerging French talent Antoine Rozner. I have to admit he was one of the last names off the shortlist in Italy last week, and he nearly made me pay, raking in another top ten performance.
He was a runner-up in Mauritius this year having enjoyed a seventh there before. Rozner has also picked up a T10 in Oman and only missed two cuts since breaking through onto the ET.
Key to his game is his iron play, ranking 7th for SG: Approach and 12th for Greens in Regulation on the entire tour – that should correlate to being among the best in the field here yet he's in the second rung in terms of odds. He is also quite reliable with the flat-stick, meaning he is likely to turn these GIRs into birdies – in theory, at least.
Twice a winner on the Challenge Tour, he does have some pedigree over others. He should thrive this week.
Joakim Lagergren (45/1 Betfair)
There are plenty of other candidates in this range, it's hard to pass on Gavin Green, Wil Besseling and Nico Colsaerts, who showed up last week, but instead, I'll go to Joakim Lagergren as he should fancy this track.
Earlier this year, he notched a T3 in Portugal where he has often shown signs of life, picking up three top-20 finishes at Dom Pedro. He's also clinched the Sicilian Open, which was right on the coastline in Italy back in 2018. Lagergren has also a fifth at Galgorm behind our winning pick John Catlin and is yet to miss a cut in five straight events.
The Swede can combine two key assets here as he ranks 12th for SG: Approach and 13th for Putts per GIR. If he's hitting these greens, he will give us every chance of scoring and thus, being there come Sunday.
Grant Forrest (70/1 Coral)
Another name that crops up at a lot of these correlated courses is Scotsman Grant Forrest. T14 in Portugal, T10 in Oman and a T4 in Mauritius are in fact his three best finishes in the past 12 months.
His eye for resort-style or coastal tracks is reinforced by delving into his Challenge Tour history where you'll find a runner-up in the Costa del Sol, Switzerland (similar elevation changes to here) and in the UAE. The fact that he has two runner-up places in the Hainan Trophy shows he regularly performs well at the same sort of test too.
Forrest even has correlating form at the Trophee Hassan's Royal dar es Salam in Morrocco, which is designed by the very same architect as Aphrodite.
Louis de Jager (100/1 Betfair)
Louis de Jager was another one high up on my list last week and at one stage, he flashed with three solid opening rounds of 68-68-67 before a dead-rubber fourth and final go. He was only six shots behind our Canter, so if he followed with another 67, then he'd have been very close to contending too.
The South African has put up very respectable figures in terms of SG: Approach (33rd), GIR (40th) and birdie scoring (57th), which is a lot more standout amongst this weak field.
He's no schmuck either, picking up four Sunshine Tour titles dating back to 2014, the most recent coming last year where he defeated Trevor Fisher Jr in a playoff to clinch the Eye of Africa PGA Championship. De Jager also has a handful of top-15 finishes in ET starts, including a T2 in Kenya.
Perhaps the hot weather bears some similarities to his home country, so I'm willing to take a flier on him at three-figures this week.
Kristoffer Reitan (100/1 Coral)
I'll end the plan this week with another long-shot (it's definitely not induced from nightmares about McGowan's win) as Kristoffer Reitan's final round -7 was one of the few that stood out in Italy.
That T5 may be his best finish on the ET but at just 22, he looks like he could be one of the next impressive Scandinavians to break through on tour. He'd be following in the footsteps of Dane sensation Rasmus Hojgaard, Lucas Bjerregaard, Marcus Kinhult and many more.
Reitan is another who has also shown up in Morrocco and Portugal, and has experience on resort-style courses on the Nordic Golf League – his last outing there was a T4 at the PGA Catalunya Resort Championship in Barcelona.
Another three-figure dart throw, but a very worthy one at that.
Cyprus Open – Sami Valimaki (33/1 each-way Coral)
Cyprus Open – Antoine Rozner (35/1 each-way Betfair)
Cyprus Open – Joakim Lagergren (45/1 each-way Betfair)
Cyprus Open – Grant Forrest (70/1 each-way Coral)
Cyprus Open – Louis de Jager (100/1 each-way Betfair)
Cyprus Open – Kristoffer Reitan (100/1 each-way Coral)